Review: Allegiance – Pilot

Last week, NBC premiered the pilot episode of their new spy thriller, Allegiance. The story follows CIA analyst Alex O’Connor Gavin Stenhouse) as he works to investigate the SVR’s (former KGB) actions on U.S. soil, rumored to possibly “bring America to its knees.” Alex is an extremely intuitive individual who does not see the threat right in front of him as his parents and sister (Hope Davis, Scott Cohen, and Margarita Levieva) are in the service of the SVR and have recently been re-activated to play their part in the terrorist plans that he has been commissioned to investigate with the CIA.

The pilot episode of Allegiance wastes no time in jumping straight into the story. This method raised initial concern that the episode would end with too many questions and not enough familiarity with the characters to care what happened next. This assumption was quickly proven wrong as the plot is solidly put in place, establishing the character and roles of the players. The pilot episode laid enough groundwork to establish a running story line and put the audience into the world of the characters. At the same time, groundwork is clearly laid for future episodes, providing clues to intriguing issues. For example, there are several comments about Alex’s childhood, and some clues to mental abilities of our main protagonist. The writers were clever enough to leave a trail of breadcrumbs that we are clearly designed to follow, but it looks like the reward at the end of the trail will take some journeying to find. A sign of clever thriller writing is the ability to sell a story and maintain a mystery that pulls an audience in for further episodes. Allegiance is doing just that. While from a distance the show may look a little something like The Americans or a Jack Ryan spy games story, it has a bit of family values and an lighter touch that make this story stand apart in a positive way.

In addition, Alex (played by Gavin Stenhouse) appears to have been a smart choice for the lead. Unlike many other characters in television who are portrayed as smart, but cocky and abrasive, Alex is played as a sweet and almost naive man with extreme intelligence. He does not have the maladjusted communication and personality traits that many television leads lean toward today, but rather comes across as a sincere individual with a desire to do what is asked to protect his country. He is a rookie and does not pretend to be anything other than that, which is a refreshing take in the investigative/thriller genre of television. Gavin Stenhouse is a fresh face who looks like the young and sweet man that a family would desperately try to protect from the spy games of Mother Russia.

Check out the trailer for Allegiance below and take a gander at NBC’s new thriller on Thursdays at 10/9c.

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